It's here, it's here - Google's very own Google-phone, the Nexus One. After weeks of rumours and leaked specs, the big G has finally unveiled one of the most hyped phones since the iPhone - and according to them, 'Nexus One belongs in an emerging category of devices which we call 'superphones'.
Built by HTC, the design was completely directed by Google, and features a five-megapixel camera with autofocus, 2x digital zoom and LED flash (supported by Android versions 2.0 and up), a hyper-bright 3.7-inch AMOLED touch-screen at a widescreen, high-res 480x800 pixels.
It's a full touch device with - wait for it - two mics. Apparently the mic on the back helps eliminate background noise, useful if you're in a noisy environment. The back features a metal strip which according to Google, doesn't just look sleek, you could inscribe with something personal - like 'Happy Birthday Mom'. The trademark trackball seen on all HTC Android devices now glows multi-coloured, depending what you're doing. How cute.
It's also the first device to run on the spanking new Android 2.1, putting it at a speed way above Motorola's Milestone (on Android 2.0). Other Android 2.1 features include Google Maps Navigation with voice nav, Facebook integration including a homescreen widget to check statuses and post, and a grid-like button that'll allow you to switch between social networking apps at a single touch.
But from what we can see, there hasn't been a major overhaul. It seems like Google has focused on jazzing up the standard features of a smartphone like internet, photos and user interface. For example, customisation is a major point. There'll now be five homescreen panels versus the original three, and Google is making special note of a weather widget that uses GPS to ascertain the conditions where you are, with the 'Googly' touch of having a minute-by-minute graph that you can touch to find the exact weather at an exact time.
The demo also went through 'live wallpaper' such as 'water', which shows a dynamic, flowing water surface that ripples if you tap it.
Media and general UI also looks incredibly slick, thanks to some stylish new 3D tweaks. For example, an app launcher now launches a menu of apps that look like they're on a wheel, so top apps are actually fading away. There's also a new Gallery app that leverages 3D tech and the accelerometer so that when you tip the phone, or tap on a photo, they'll slide away from you.
The coolest thing though, has gotta be the speech to text feature - you can actually direct the phone to do things like 'find the nearest IKEA'. It'll use GPS to find where you are, then get you directions to the nearest IKEA via Google Maps. But that's old, Android 2.0 stuff. With 2.1, every text field is voice-enabled. What does that mean? Well, everytime you'd usually type a command, you can just say it instead!
We were especially impressed with the speech-to-text feature when it came to Google Earth - say 'Mount Fuji', launch the app, and zoom into snow covered peaks.
So does Google want to take over the mobile phone market? According to a spokeperson, "We're not going to celebrate too much because we're at the early stages of a longer journey."
You can now buy a Nexus One from www.google.com/phone unlocked or on T-Mobile USA. The web store will be available in more countries soon.
Google's Nexus One costs US$529 unlocked, or from $179 on a T-Mobile USA plan. In Spring 2010, Nexus One will also be available on Vodafone in the UK and Europe, and as a CDMA device on Verizon Wireless in the USA. No UK price has been confirmed.